Sugar and Spice Advice … The dreaded “D” word

A family enjoying a meal together
A family enjoying a meal together

Spring has arrived and with it we now have longer, sunnier days, and mild temperatures. Spring is the season of renewal and revitalization and not just for nature. We can use this season of renewal to get our health in order, thus rejuvenating ourselves. Now honestly speaking, the word diet is one of those evil 4 letter words we shouldn’t be using; you know like the cuss word that starts with an F. If the word diet is as much of a swear word to you as it is to me, then we can move in a healthier direction without thinking we are on a d—t. Please read on to find some helpful tips to help you become your best self. (Oh, as an added kicker, summer and bathing suit season will be here in no time. Yikes!)

Watch out for emotional eating. You know what I mean. You get that promotion and out to dinner you go to celebrate with a hefty meal, a couple glasses of wine, and cheesecake for dessert. Your boyfriend decides to see someone new so you put on your old baggy clothes, make for the couch, and cry into your gallon of ice cream. Stop! Don’t do it! Take a minute and ask yourself if you are really hungry or just stressed, sad, elated, etc. If you are feeling anxiety, etc., deal with it directly. Try taking a walk or exercising or soaking in a luscious tub of warm water and bubble bath. Research has shown that while sugar gives you a quick rush, insulin shows up to handle it, and you find you are more tired than before. And don’t forget the guilt that comes afterwards once you realize that you’ve downed more calories than you meant to.

Are you getting enough water? Did you know that having a nice refreshing glass of water before eating helps you feel full and eat less? It is true. Many cancer patients need to eat and sometimes they feel full after just a couple of bites. One the tips we gave our patients is to not drink before a meal and drink sparingly during the meal itself. That way they could eat more and get the nutrition they needed.

Snack. Yes, I did say snack. Now I am going to qualify that by saying snack on yummy healthy stuff and not on the chocolate bar in the vending machine. When you are being careful to watch your intake and weight, you deserve to have a snack. Depriving yourself of that can set you up for failure. What to snack on? Try these great ideas that can help quell the hunger pangs and boost your energy. Sliced veggies, a handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, or some whole wheat crackers. Not enough variety for you? Try these.
Low fat graham crackers and a glass of low fat milk when you want something sweet.
Grapes or banana slices for a naturally sweet treat. Try freezing them for a cool snack. Toss garlic powder and some parmesan cheese onto plain popcorn. Put some non-fat cream cheese and 100 percent fruit spread on whole grain crackers, rice cakes, or half a bagel – whole wheat preferably. See snacks can be healthy and taste good, too.

Enjoy your meals. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message that you are full. This means relax and enjoy the food. Sit down instead of eating on the run. Turn off the TV, the cell phone, the lap top while eating. Focus on your food. Eating with your family or a friend will slow down your eating because you are enjoying the conversation.

Last but not least, don’t grocery shop when you are hungry. That really doesn’t need to be said, does it? I guess for me, it does. I know not to do that, but I am either shopping after I get off work and am tired and hungry and just put anything in the cart so I can finish quickly. Or I sabotage myself by skipping breakfast because I know I’ll get something I really want for breakfast from the store. Oh, I’ll get that something all right, but I’ll have thrown in a couple of doughnuts, too. So the moral to the story – don’t shop when you are hungry. Make a list and follow that list. Don’t even put the doughnuts or cookies on the shopping list. You will be pleasantly surprised when you find your grocery bill is lower and your waistline is slimmer.

So throw the D word away. Make some small healthy changes like those mentioned above and you will notice a positive difference. I had better take my own advice and eat before I go pick up groceries today. And I will stick to my list, too.

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